Researchers at King’s have found that people with autism have enhanced decision-making skills, compared to those without autism.
They are also less susceptible to the “framing effect” – a tendency to make decisions based on how they are presented.
A study published October 13 in Molecular Autism examined how people with and without autism responded to a computerised task. The participants were asked to make decisions about whether or not to gamble, in situations where they could either “lose” or “gain” a given amount.
According to the researchers, the two groups demonstrated different decision-making strategies. Those without autism tended to let emotions influence their decisions. Showing an awareness of internal bodily sensations – like their heartbeat – this group was linked to more emotional decision-making, bringing new meaning to the phrase “following your heart.”
Those with autism used a more rule-based strategy, consistently maintaining their decisions, regardless of whether their choices were framed positively or negatively.
“Autism is often considered a negative thing,” said Punit Shah, a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience.
“Although people with the disorder struggle in social situations, and we should help individuals with this and other disorders, we should also be studying and reporting potential strengths found in this condition.”
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